Editor’s note: Since this story was initially published, the request was officially OK’ed by the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office Wednesday, July 7, according to county officials.
BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Friday approved a request from the Hodgesville Public Service District to utilize American Rescue Plan funds to pay two outstanding bills, which together totaled close to $39,000.
The Upshur County Commission convened a special meeting July 2 to consider utilizing emergency ARP funding to help the Hodgesville PSD pay an outstanding balance to their contractor, Ringer’s Inc., and their supply firm, Core and Main.
At Friday’s special meeting, Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace explained Gould had also requested emergency ARP funding so the Hodgesville PSD could pay off two outstanding balances.
“During the commission meeting yesterday, Terry Gould noted that he has outstanding invoices to two different companies,” Wallace said. “One is Ringers Inc., who performs the repairs to the service lines and those invoices are in the amount of $27,745 from March 3 forward, which is the eligibility date for utilizing ARP funds. The total in arrears payments he has to that organization is $82,000; however, the items that you’ll be discussing today are the $27,745.”
Wallace said the second bill was from Core and Main, the Hodgesville PSD’s supply firm, and the total owed is just over $11,100.
“The second is Core and Main, Hodgesville PSD’s supply firm, and the total owed and past due since March 31 for them is $11,148.50,” she explained. “My understanding is there aren’t any past due invoices to that firm between March 3 and March 31.”
On July 1, the commission approved Gould’s request to utilize $4,693 of ARP funds to replace the control valve for the Shumaker Water Tank, bringing their total amount requested to $43,586.50. Gould told commissioners that due to a faulty valve, the PSD was unable to shut off flow from the water tank should an emergency occur.
Wallace said she talked to Anthony Woods with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office to make sure the commission could start allocating ARP funds.
“The reason I brought it up to [Woods] was because I thought in a training, we heard or had been advised that we should not spend the ARP funds prior to the final guidance being released, and he stated that he wasn’t aware of that in the language, but he was going to review and confirm so I have not heard back from him,” Wallace said. “I felt comfortable with you moving forward yesterday with the $4,600, because if we are told that you actually can’t utilize those funds, prior to the final guidance being released, I feel comfortable with the county covering the $4,600.”
Wallace said the commission could approve the request pending the confirmation they could spend the ARP funds now.
“As you’re aware, we’re not expecting the final ARP guidance to be released until the end of July, [and] you’re eligible to cover expenses beginning on March 3, but I’m still just not clear on whether or not you’re actually able to allocate and spend the funds prior to that final guidance being released,” Wallace said.
Upshur County Commissioner Terry Cutright made a motion to approve the request, as long as they are allowed to allocate the funds prior to the final guidelines being released.
“I’d just like to say, I think 80-some thousand dollars is too much to owe a company, and to expect that company to come back and do more work for you,” Cutright said. “That’s why if we get confirmation on it, I think we should pay the money we can from March 3 to present and therefore, I’ll make the motion, [that if] if we get to confirmation, we go ahead and pay Ringers and Core and Main invoices with the ARP funds.”
County commissioner Sam Nolte seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.